ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2015 NHL Draft in Florida on June 26-27. Timo Meier is the No. 10-ranked North American skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. The Avalanche has the 10th overall selection at the draft.
Hard work and dedication has gotten Timo Meier the attention and respect that he deserves heading into the 2015 NHL Draft. Meier is the 10th ranked North American skater, according to NHL Central Scouting, and is also the No. 1 ranked player coming out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
For the past two seasons, Meier has been playing for the Halifax Mooseheads (the same team Nathan Mackinnon played for). In his 2013-14 rookie campaign, Meier posted 14 goals and 14 assists over the course of 66 games.
Heading into the offseason after his first year with Halifax last summer, Meier knew that he had to gain more strength and speed going into his second season with the Mooseheads in order to get where he wanted to be. He did just that.
"I worked hard this summer and knew what to expect; I saw how [teammate Nikolaj Ehlers, the ninth overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft] played and how he went up the ranks and how the game is here, and that helped me," Meier said to NHL.com. "[Halifax head coach Dominique Ducharme] told me you have to get faster and stronger over the summer and I worked on that. We have a young team, but I'm getting more minutes and was prepared for that."
Meier’s sophomore season put him among the elite in the QMJHL. Playing 61 games, Meier finished the regular season with 44 goals and 46 assists while leading the Halifax to the playoffs. Only Ehlers had more points for the Mooseheads, as he finished with 101 points during the same period. Meier finished the regular season ranked 11th in the league in points. He did not slow down in the playoffs either, scoring 10 goals and adding 11 assists in 14 postseason games before Halifax lost to the Moncton Wildcats in the quarterfinals.
The success Meier had in his second season did not catch his coach by surprise either.
“It was a year for him of looking and learning; he took in a lot," Ducharme said to NHL.com. "I expected him to come back strong this season because he now knows the way the league goes and the caliber of game he needs to play. You see Timo come in every day and he wants to get better. It's great to see his evolution and progression."
It took awhile for Meier, a native of Herisau, Switzerland, to adjust away from a European style of play, but over time it became clear that he was getting the hang of things and was starting to excel amongst his peers.
"He's not hard to play with and he's playing more of a North American style than last year, but realizing the game he needs to be playing to become a pro," Ducharme said. "He simplified his game and has good hands and vision for a big guy.”
One area where Meier’s game shines is on special teams. Last season, Meier set the franchise record for the most power-play goals (23) in a season for the Mooseheads. Meier knows what his strengths are and likes to use them to his advantage, but he also knows he can always get better.
"I'm improving in scoring goals, finishing plays, and my skating," Meier said to Mike Morreale of NHL.com. "I'm able to use my size and play a big game; that's something I know I need to keep working at. I like to play physical and put pucks on net."
At 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds, the left-shot right wing dominated the QMJHL this past season, registering at least a point in 27 consecutive games (28 goals and 23 assists) and tying No. 1 North American prospect Connor McDavid for the second longest streak in the Canadian Hockey League. Meier trailed behind only Ehlers, who set a franchise record with 33 consecutive games.
Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting, sees Meier as the type of player who could crack an NHL lineup sooner than later.
"He's a solid and strong skater both with and without the puck, has high-end hockey sense and reads the play very well," Marr said. "He competes and works smart on plays and is very effective in 1-on-1 situations."
Meier represented his home country earlier this year at the 2015 World Junior Championship, collecting two goals along with four assists over the course of six games. He skated alongside talented prospect Kevin Fiala, who was selected 11th overall by the Nashville Predators in 2014, and they both brought the best out of each other.
"The World Juniors was a great experience; it was a fast game and really intense," Meier said. "There were a lot of good players playing for those big countries and it was great. You have to be fast and on the ice be thinking ahead about the game to keep up the pace. I took a lot from that."
Being able to skate with guys like Ehlers and Fiala shows that he has the coach’s trust and confidence to play on the top line. It’s a role that Meier expects to have in the NHL one day.